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Monday, June 22, 2009

3rd day in London - Playing Tourist

I meant to post this yesterday before I flew home, but I ran out of Internet time at the hotel. A day late, but here it is:

After a good night's sleep and breakfast, took a car service to Russell Square Park to meet my WHOA UK Law Liasion (and good friend), Katherine, and her husband, Bruce. I told the driver I was meeting them at a diner in the park. He told me there was no diner. I showed him the email she'd sent me and he was curious. Sure enough, because Saturday traffic is slow, there *is* a restaurant in the park. So a London driver learned something new!

I got a latte, sat outside and people-watched (and pigeon-watched - boy, there are a lot of pigeons in London). It was nice just to relax. Bruce and Katherine came a little bit later and we headed to the bus stop for our first stop of the day - changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. We got there at 11 am, the change would take place at 1130, so we had to try to find the right spot. We came close. After much excitement, and a Metro Policeman making sure latecomers didn't try to get in front of me - I was there first, after all, LOL), a band came marching down the street towards the Palace, all with those tall bearskin hats. Got that on video and photos (will post when I get home). They went thru the gates of the Palace and we didn't get to see the actual changing of the guard. Damn! But got them coming out. We asked the policeman where the guards were that we could get photos of (the ones with the tall hats). He said they weren't on duty yet. No worries! I asked if I could take my photo with him. He was pleased as punch. So Bruce took a photo of me with this policeman.

Next Bruce and I walked to the Hard Rock Cafe so that I could get a t-shirt (I always try to visit the Hard Rock if there's one where I am to get a little something). This is the flagship, opened in 1971. Very cool!!! On the way back to get Katherine at the Palace, we stopped at a sidewalk vendor and I got a London hoodie sweatshirt for me (it was just a bit chilly, not enough for my jacket, which I'd left at the hotel) and a t-shirt for my mom (Nancy, tell her I got what I warned her I would get).

We then took a taxi to the Thames River to find the cruise we wanted to go on. Finally found it on the other side of the river, near the London Eye, which Bruce and I were going on later (Katherine's done these things zillions of times, so she let me have my touristy fun with her hubby, who was a good sport all day). We took the City Cruises cruise (redundant, eh?) up and down the river. It was a good three hours, changing boats once. It was great to get a closeup view of the Tower Bridge, Tower of London (which we didn't have enough time to actually go into) and other places. I just loved the boats! It was sunny, then cloudy, a little sprinkle, then back to sun - so it was a perfect afternoon!

We made it back to Westminster for our London Eye ride. Katherine begged off - she was tired and headed back to their hotel. The ride was phenomenal - it's like a giant ferris wheel, but goes slowly around so that you get a terrific view of all of London. I hope the photos come out okay.

Bruce then took me on the Tube, London's subway system. This was after getting lost trying to find the darned station - we kept seeing signs pointing to it, then it was not where we thought it would be. Finally found the tube and it was quite the experience! Hang on tight!! We had to change once to get to the station near the restaurant we'd be eating at. Then we got lost again. Bruce ended up calling the restaurant three times to get us there and we finally made it to Porters Restaurant, an authentic English pub. So I of course had to have an authentic English ale and selected St. Peters Brewery Golden Ale (shown on their main page). Neat bottle, nice ale and very much needed after all the walking we'd done. Bruce opted for a screwdriver. I had to have the Shepherd's Pie, made tradionally with lamb. It was very, very good (I probably could have had two, ha ha). We also had dessert and Bruce ended up chatting with the guy sitting next to us. Turns out this guy was originally from the same town Bruce and Katherine live in! What a truly small world it is!

We took the Tube to the station nearest my hotel, then had to ask someone how to get to the street the hotel was on. This nice old British guy pointed our direction, then actually followed us for a bit to make sure we were on our way in the right direction. At the hotel, I bought Bruce a Bailey's on the rocks as a thank you for the fun during the day and dinner. We hugged, I went up to my room, called Chris on Skype and finally crashed at around midnight.

Got up yesterday am and packed and as soon as I posted this, headed downstairs to checkout and go to the airport. I loved my time in London, but I really couldn't wait to go home and be with my honey and my furry babies. I talked to Bandit on Skype Saturday night and watching the video of him facing the webcam and whining broke my heart. I got them both a good treat. And did my souvenir shopping at the airport (I know, I know, shame on me, but it was a busy day Saturday).

I'll post about the flight home, etc later today.

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